smoker and/or fryer
Large cutting board
Sharp carving knife
Large container or cooler
A meat thermometer
large stock pot
Lots of vegetable oil
Smoking (for the dark meat)
Frying (for the white meat)
Prepping the Turkey
- Lay thawed turkey on flat surface or large cutting board, breast side up. With a sharp knife, cut a long slit in the skin between the leg and the breast on each side to release their connection. Then with both hands, pick up the bird by holding onto the leg/thigh joint on either side and turn the bird over.
- With the breast side down, pull back towards you on each leg until the thighs pop out of place at the joint. Then turn the turkey back over, breast side up. The legs should lay flat and the bird should be splayed out now on the cutting board.
- Angle your knife to follow the curve of the rib cage and with the blade facing into the open cavity, separate any skin that may be holding the dark meat and white meat together.
- With two hands, open up the cavity as wide as you can to pop the backbone open just below the rib cage. Once that joint pops, just take a knife and separate any tissue or skin that may be still connected.
- Once this is done, you should have a whole double breast with wings and ribcage intact and a whole double leg/thigh combo on the bone.
- Place turkey pieces in a large container that can comfortably hold the halved bird plus extra room for the brine. You can determine how much brine to make by pouring ice cold water, 1 gallon at a time, over the turkey just to cover. Be sure to take note of exactly how much water was used.
- Remove the turkey and set aside temporarily on dry towels or cutting board leaving the water in the container. For every gallon of cold water, add 1 cup of kosher salt and then stir vigorously to combine, making sure that the salt has completely dissolved.
- Then place the meat back into the container by slowly lowering it into the brine. Store between 33-41°F for 20-24 hours.
Note: If you have a cooler large enough, you may just brine the turkey directly in a cooler, using ice water instead of just cold water. Follow directions above. Be sure the cooler is clean when you begin and take care to clean it well when you are finished using it.
Smoke the Dark Meat
- Place in smoker and cook until internal temperature reaches internal temperature 150°F, about 2 hours on low-medium heat.
- Turn once halfway through cooking to keep browning of skin even. Transfer the dark meat to a roasting pan and finish in 350°F oven until internal temperature reaches 160-165°F.
Fry the White Meat
- Fill a large stockpot halfway with vegetable oil and heat to 300°F, using a clip on oil thermometer. Pat the turkey dry inside and out and leave covered with towels until ready to fry.
- With great care, slowly lower the turkey that was patted dry into the hot oil. Allow to cook until internal temperature reaches 140-145°F, about 20-30 minutes.
- Carefully pull the turkey out of the hot oil and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Allow to rest for 20-30 minutes before slicing.
- from Steven Satterfield, Miller Union, Atlanta, Georgia